A man has spent his whole life collecting over 1,500 automotive artefacts which he kept in his shed.

The collection is now expected to make his family a small fortune.

Alan Pooley's collection which includes 250 vintage oil cans and 60 two-gallon fuel canisters has been tipped to be worth £80,000

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Other items include motorbikes, enamel signs, advertisements, and period giveaways from old petrol stations spanning several decades.

Mr Pooley, a car bodyworker, kept his diverse collection in a shed at his home in Norfolk where it near enough covered every surface until his death.

Because of the sheer size of the collection, it is being sold at three different auctions - the first has already made £40,000 for his grandchildren.

One of the rarest pieces is a limited-edition fuel can in its original condition made for only a single year in the 1930s.

Some of the oil cans in Alan's shed
Some of the oil cans in Alan's shed

The prized possession features the faded yellow lightning bolt and bold lettering of Shell Racing and sold for £605.

Other high-flying lots included an early Shell can with a stick man logo which went for £660 and a Monaco VC can which fetched an impressive £932.

A Vickers-Armstrong fuel pump, complete with a 20-gallon delivery meter and hose, made £712.

Tom Godsmark, a specialist at Cheffins Auctioneers of Cambridge, where Mr Pooley's collection is being sold, said: "The first part of the Pooley Collection saw strong bidding across all sections.

"The Pooley items have really caused a stir amongst collectors, particularly as they were fresh to the market and make up one of the UK's most interesting private petroliana collections to come available at auction.

"Prices for fuel pumps, oil cans, fuel advertisements and enamel or tin signs have been creeping up in recent years, with the best in class now able to sell for well into the hundreds and even thousands in some cases.

"We will be selling the rest of the Pooley collection both at Christmas and in April next year."

Karin Burleigh, Mr Pooley's partner, said: "Alan was absolutely passionate about finding something he could restore.

Alan's collection
Alan's collection has taken over the shed

"He picked up items which most people would have just walked past - there was nothing he couldn't repair.

"Some of the oil cans were truly dented and full of holes. They would have been thrown away but now they're beautifully restored. Because of him, they will still be here in another 80 years or so."

Jeremy Curzon, who helped organise the items, said: "Alan had the most remarkable fun putting this collection together - he just cracked on with it, trawling through specialist auctions, and nobody had any idea it existed until now.

"He was a car body restorer who used his skills to restore everything from petrol cans to free giveaways and classic advertisements like Tony the Tiger.

"He painted the fuel cans to highlight their remarkable colour and variety. There is a lot of nostalgia attached to these items which people of a certain age connect with".

The second part of Alan Pooley's collection will be sold in December.